Every year millions of people are injured in motor vehicle accidents — many very seriously. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, someone in the United States is killed in a car accident every 16 minutes. In 2010, there were an estimated 5,419,000 vehicles involved in police-reported traffic crashes, in which 32,885 people were killed and another 2.25 million people were injured. Other disturbing statistics are as follows:
At Zalman, Schnurman & Miner P.C. we use our experience in handling accident cases to investigate every possible contributing cause of an accident to ensure that you will receive full compensation for your injuries. Evaluating all of the facts involved in the cause of a motor vehicle accident requires skill and experience. Our office will take over the investigation of your case so that you can concentrate on recovering from your injuries. We can assist you in finding an appropriate medical specialist to treat you, and we can make arrangements with your medical care providers to wait for payment until your case is resolved through settlement or trial.
Automobile accidents are generally decided using the law of negligence. A person who negligently operates a vehicle may be required to pay any damages caused by their negligence, either to person or property. Generally, people who operate automobiles must exercise "reasonable care under the circumstances." Failure to use reasonable care is the basis in most lawsuits for damages caused by an automobile accident.
Courts look to a number of factors in determining whether a driver was negligent. Some examples of these factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
A driver may also be liable for an accident caused by intentional or reckless conduct. A driver who is reckless is one who drives unsafely, with willful and wanton disregard for the probability that the driving may cause an accident.
In certain cases, accidents are caused by factors unrelated to the conduct of any particular driver. For example, under the law of product liability, an automobile manufacturer or supplier may be responsible for injuries caused by a defect in the automobile, or a component of the automobile, as in the Firestone tire litigation. A products liability suit is a lawsuit brought against the seller of a product for selling a defective product that caused physical injury to a consumer or user. If a manufacturer of a product creates a defective product — either in developing, designing or labeling the product — the manufacturer is liable for any injures the product causes, regardless of whether or not the manufacturer was negligent.
In another example, if a mechanic fails to properly repair a vehicle, and the failure causes an accident, the person who improperly repaired the automobile, and the repair shop, may be liable for injuries sustained. Other factors such as poorly maintained roads and malfunctioning traffic control signals can contribute to the cause. Improper design, maintenance, construction, signage, lighting or other highway defect, as well as improper striping on the road's passing lanes, a sharp obstruction or problem with the roadway that limits the drivers' vision, or poorly placed trees and utility poles can also cause serious accidents. Finally, if an accident is caused by an intoxicated driver, a bar or social host may be liable for damages sustained if they served an obviously intoxicated guest, who then drives and causes an accident.